Breaking down the South Jersey baseball tournaments:
Field: 1. Shawnee. 2. Jackson Memorial. 3. Eastern. 4. Kingsway. 5. Cherry Hill East. 6. Toms River North. 7. Millville. 8. Vineland. 9. Rancocas Valley. 10. Clearview. 11. Williamstown. 12. Lenape. 13. Howell. 14. Brick Memorial. 15. Cherokee. 16. Egg Harbor Twp.
Reigning champion: Jackson Memorial.
Favorite: Take your pick. Shawnee is the top seed and riding high after winning the Diamond Classic. But this is an absolutely loaded field. Lower seeds such as Clearview, Williamstown and Lenape have been among the best teams in South Jersey over the last few weeks. EHT is the 16 seed and the Eagles were a preseason Top 5 team!
Dark horse: Take your pick again. Kingsway, CH East, Millville, Clearview, Williamstown and Lenape all merit strong consideration in this category.
Best first-round game: Take your pick for a third time. Clearview at Millville matches two teams that started slowly but have gathered a lot of steam. RV at Vineland is a good 9-8 battle. But the best could be Lenape at CH East, two Olympic American rivals. They’ve met once this season, with CHE winning 10-9 in eight innings.
Projected second-round battles: The Lenape-CHE East winner vs. Kingsway (assuming the Dragons beat Howell) would be a good one. If Williamstown, which is 7-2 in May, upsets TR North, the Braves would visit Eastern if the Vikings hold serve vs. Brick Memorial.
Watch Jackson Memorial: The defending champions are 20-3, and the three losses were by a combined four runs. They’ve won 11 of 12 behind Ryan Lasko (9 HRs) and Zep Princiotta (6-1, 1.27 ERA).
Player to watch: Lenape catcher Cade Hunter is batting .469 with 18 extra-base hits, including eight HRs, and 31 RBIs.
Another player to watch: Shawnee senior left-hander Jackson Balzan is 6-0 with a 0.72 ERA with 46 Ks and just 14 BBs.
Projected final four: Kingsway at Shawnee, Eastern at Jackson.
Field: 1. Triton. 2. Cherry Hill West. 3. Moorestown. 4. Ocean City. 5. Highland. 6. Hammonton. 7. Mainland. 8. TR South. 9. Pinelands. 10. Absegami. 11. Lacey. 12. TR East. 13. GCIT. 14. Timber Creek. 15. Camden Tech. 16. Central.
Reigning champion: Seneca.
Favorite: Another toss-up. As the top seeds, Triton and Cherry Hill West have the smoothest path (on paper), but this is an especially loaded Group 3 field.
Dark horse: Hammonton. The Blue Devils have won four in a row and have a top 1-2 punch on the mound in Mike Walter (5-0, 1.42) and Steve Restuccio (30 Ks in 29.1 IP).
Best first-round game: Absegami at Mainland is a clash of division rivals. The Mustangs won both regular-season meetings (7-3 and 11-7) but the Braves are a dangerous No. 10 seed behind Wagner recruit Sam Daggers (54 Ks in 35.2 IP).
Watch Ocean City: The Red Raiders have won 13 in a row and have formidable pitching depth in ace Brandon Lashey (6-0, 0.48) as well as Matt Nunan (2-0, 1.22), Gannon Brady (5-0, 1.56) and Tommy Finnegan (4-1, 1.04).
Player to watch: Cherry Hill West outfielder Scott Shaw is batting .512 with 13 walks and 21 runs.
Projected final four: Ocean City at Triton, Hammonton at Cherry Hill West.
Field: 1. Haddonfield. 2. West Deptford. 3. Delran. 4. Audubon. 5. Haddon Heights. 6. Cedar Creek. 7. Barnegat. 8. Collingswood. 9. Sterling. 10. Delsea. 11. Pemberton. 12. Manchester. 13. Camden Charter. 14. Oakcrest. 15.Cinnaminson. 16. Lower Cape May.
Reigning champion: Haddonfield.
Dark horse: Cedar Creek. The Pirates are 6-3 in their last nine, with losses to Group 3 teams Triton, Absegami and Ocean City. They have a top hitter in Dave Hagaman (.391, 7 doubles, 23 RBIs).
Best first-round game: Sterling at Collingswood is a clash of old Colonial Conference rivals. Collingswood, which has an ace pitcher in Kentucky recruit Alex Margot (72 Ks in 39 IP), won both regular-season battles.
Watch West Deptford: The Eagles are 10-2 in their last 12 behind junior outfielder R.J. Mason (.459, 22 RBIs).
Player to watch: Haddonfield ace Dylan Heine, a Rider recruit, is 8-0 with a 0.58 ERA with 58 Ks and 7 BBs.
Another player to watch: Delran junior outfielder R.J. Moten is batting .528 with 28 runs and 11 extra-base hits.
Projected final four: Audubon at Haddonfield, Delran at West Deptford.
Field: 1. Glassboro. 2. Maple Shade. 3. Schalick. 4. Gloucester. 5. Woodstown. 6. Buena. 7. Overbrook. 8. Pennsville. 9. Pitman. 10. Haddon Twp. 11. Cape May Tech. 12. Paulsboro. 13. Clayton. 14. Gateway. 15. Salem. 16. LEAP.
Reigning champion: Pennsville.
Dark horse: Buena. The Chiefs have played a formidable schedule for a Group 1 team (EHT, St Augustine, Ocean City, Vineland, Bishop Eustace in Diamond) and have a player to watch in catcher Jake Guglielmi (.388, 25 steals).
Another dark horse: Haddon Twp. The Hawks have won four of five, with the lone loss to Paul VI. They have pitching depth and a dangerous hitter in Nick Squazzo (.558, 10 steals).
Best first-round game: Haddon Twp. at Overbrook. These Colonial rivals met twice this season, with the lower-seeded Hawks winning both games.
Player to watch: Glassboro junior Noah Putney is batting .405 with 16 extra-base hits.
Another player to watch: Schalick catcher Stauss Pokrovsky is batting .556 with nine homers.
Projected final four: Gloucester at Glassboro, Haddon Twp. at Buena.
Field: 1. St. Augustine. 2. CBA. 3.Bishop Eustace. 4. Red Bank Catholic. 5. Notre Dame. 6. St. Joseph Metuchen. 7 Paul VI. 8. Donovan Catholic. 9. St. John Vianney. 10.. Camden Catholic. 11. Bishop Ahr.
Reigning champion: St. Augustine.
Favorite: St. Augustine. The Hermits rate a slight edge as they’ve won this tournament two years in a row. But watch CBA and Bishop Eustace.
Dark horse: Paul VI. The Eagles are 13-3 since a 1-4 start. The losses were to Shawnee, CH West and Bishop Eustace. Junior Chris Rowell has a 1.86 ERA with 53 Ks in 49 IP.
Best first-round game: Camden Catholic at Paul VI. These schools are fierce rivals in every sport. These teams have played twice this season, with Paul VI winning two tight games by 3-0 and 6-5.
Watch CBA: The second seed has won seven of eight and has a legit ace in Northeastern recruit Pat Reilly (8-0, 0.65, 75 Ks in 43.1 IP).
Player to watch: Bishop Eustace senior Matt Orlando, a Maryland recruit, is 6-0 with an 0.72 ERA with 49 Ks in 39 IP and also is batting .354 with 19 walks.
Another player to watch: St. Augustine senior Jayson Hoopes, a Virginia recruit, is 6-0 with an 0.70 ERA with 40 Ks in 20 IP.
Projected final four: Red Bank Catholic at St. Augustine, Bishop Eustace at CBA,
Field: 1. Gloucester Catholic. 2. Immaculata. 3. Trenton Catholic. 4. Holy Spirit. 5. Mater Dei. 6. Rutgers Prep. 7. St. Joseph. 8. Ranney. 9. Moorestown Friends. 10. Holy Cross. 11. Doane. 12. Wildwood Catholic. 13. Wardlaw-Hartridge. 14. St. Rose. 15. Timothy Christian.
Reigning champion: Gloucester Catholic.
Favorite: Gloucester Catholic.
Dark horse: St. Joseph. The Wildcats are a young team that has won 10 of 12, knocking off Group 4 contender Lenape in their last outing. Sophomore Jayden Shertel is 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA with 56 Ks in 34.1 IP and also is batting .417.
Watch Immaculata: The second seed has played a challenging schedule and is coming off a victory in the Somerset County tournament.
Player to watch: Gloucester Catholic senior Lillo Paxia, a four-year starter and Florida State recruit, is batting .500 with 30 RBIs.
Projected final four: Holy Spirit at Gloucester Catholic, Trenton Catholic at Immaculata.
Best first-round game: No. 11 Northern Burlington at No. 6 Pennsauken. This is the third meeting between these Burlco Liberty rivals, with the Indians sweeping the regulars-season series.
Watch Pennsauken: The Indians have won seven in a row. Senior pitcher Ramon Andujar is 4-0 in his last four outings, allowing just 11 hits and three runs in 22 IP.
Player to watch: Pennsauken senior Roberto Bonifacio is batting .442 with 12 RBIs.